Poll: Immigration, with COVID concerns, hurts Biden

Presidential honeymoons have remarkably different lengths. President Obama’s honeymoon, at least with the press, began the day he announced his candidacy, Feb. 10, 2007, and the blissful union continues today.

On the complete opposite end of the honeymoon spectrum is President Trump, an impeachment target from before his inauguration in 2017 until February 2021, a month after he left office.

Surprisingly, the polls show that President Biden is, after only four weeks in the White House, having a rough go with the very Democrats who helped elect him. The Morning Consult poll, a partnership with the left-leaning journalism company Politico, found that several of Biden’s Executive Orders – especially those immigration-related – are among the most unpopular with voters.

Of the voters polled, only 45 percent support including illegal immigrants in the census, and only 46 percent approve halting the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, which the Biden administration has undone. Effective Feb. 19, the first of an eventual 25,000 migrants will begin entry into the United States. Others entered earlier and illegally were, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, caught and released with orders to appear in immigration court at a later date.

Biden’s lenient immigration policies have encouraged large migrant caravans to come north. As one of thousands of border-bound Hondurans told CNN, Biden is “going to help all of us” to become legal residents. When asked how the administration could refute the widely held perception that the 100 percent surge increases meant that migrants interpreted that the borders were open, an opinion Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shares, White House press secretary Jen Psaki avoided giving a straight answer.

The least popular among Biden’s executive orders is his goal to expand refugee admission to 125,000 from President Trump’s 15,000, a greater than 800 percent increase. Among those polled, 48 percent of voters somewhat or strongly oppose the president’s plan to increase refugee resettlement in the upcoming fiscal year, while 39 percent support it.

Summing up the Feb. 5-7 survey among 1,986 registered voters, and accounting for a 2 percent error margin, Morning Consult’s Senior Editor Cameron Easley wrote that “Orders pertaining to immigration and immigrant rights constitute five of his seven least popular actions among voters, and are particularly animating for Republicans.” As a result, Easley concluded, “immigration will be tricky political territory for the president.”

The nationwide apprehension about Biden’s expansive immigration executive orders is easily understandable. At the border, COVID-untested migrants, their total as yet unknown, have been released into Texas, a development that Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa called “very alarming.”

From Texas, many migrants enter other states’ general populations, and could put those residents at risk. An anonymous Customs and Border Protection official told local reporters that as per a longstanding practice, when long-term holding solutions become impossible, “some migrants will be processed for removal, provided a Notice to Appear, and released into the U.S. to await a future immigration hearing.” Without identifying catch and release, the anonymous CBP officer identified the process to a tee.

Biden’s proposed refugee intake increase has generated similar concerns about Americans’ health and safety. Weaker screening and less vetting of international refugees could unnecessarily add to the domestic COVID crisis.

Americans are puzzled at what the thought process may be behind Biden’s urgency to liberalize immigration laws when there’s no link to how his actions help the millions of economically distressed, employment-anxious citizens and lawfully present residents. Biden’s immigration actions will expand the labor pool – the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment-population ratio that measures the number of people employed against the total working-age population is a dismal 57.5 percent.

Biden is urging Congress to pass amnesty that would legalize and provide lifelong valid work permission to millions of immigrants, a big gamble for the new president. With only a five-seat margin in the House of Representatives, the Senate tied at 50-50, and with history showing that the mid-term elections cost the majority party about 25 seats, Biden could be, as the Morning Consult poll editor warned, plunging into cold and murky water.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.